“When I was a teenager, I began to settle into school because I discovered the extra curricular activities that interested to me; theatre and music.” – Morgan Freeman
Eric Stirgus recently wrote an article focusing on the effects on extra curricular programs on student performance. As a product of Atlanta Public Schools and former teacher, I know first hand the importance of extra curricular activities and programs and how they help students find success.
I spent my first two years in education working as an After School Program Director and Teacher Assistant. I started my career in Education working in this area because this is what worked for me in the public school system. I remember the experiences I had in Boy Scouts, at the recreation centers in Atlanta playing sports, leading peers in the SGA, debating on the Debate Team, news team, yearbook staff, etc. Extra curricular activities did more than just gave me something to do, it helped me find my pathway to success.
I had the opportunity to ask an Atlanta Educator, Corey Griffith about the impact of after school and enrichment programs to the dynamics taking place within the classroom. It’s vitally important for policy makers to see and understand how outside dynamics impact and influence education inside of the classroom and beyond. There’s power in developing a well rounded student.
Q: How do after school and enrichment programs support the work you do in the classroom?
A: After school and enrichment programs have provided a wide range of benefits to the students, communities, and schools that I’ve served. Their impact is immeasurable. Whether it be boosting academic performance, reducing risky behaviors, promoting physical health, or simply providing a safe, structured environment for the children of working parents, we all reap the benefits of any system designed to enhance the general welfare all stakeholders.
Here’s how extra curricular programs saved me!
#1 – Reinforced Community Engagement
#2 – Provided College & Career Exposure
#3 – Created a Safe Space for Innovative Learning
My 5th Grade Teacher, Ms. Edwards, who is still leading students at F. L. Stanton E.S. in Atlanta, helping them find success pathways, empowered me to take advantage of extra curricular activities. I fell in love with student government under her leadership as well as my 4th Grade Teacher, Mr. Gordon. Ever since then, I became involved in student governance from my academic career in APS all they way to becoming the 2nd African American and person of color to serve as the University of West Georgia’s SGA President. It was the Debate Team Coach and my 8th Grade Georgia History teacher in APS, Ms. Bess, who taught me the proper channels of debate and to exercise that energy on the debate team and not so much with her in class. This experience inspired me to become the Debate Team Coach at Bunche Middle School in Atlanta when I became an Educator. My experience with extra curricular activities helped mold me into a better student and professional. It reinforced what I learned at home, in church and within the classroom at school. We don’t often hear the term “well rounded” now, but I’m thankful for teachers, educational leaders and advocates that support parents and families in developing well rounded youth. This is why I’m an advocate for extra curricular activities! We have to connect the dots of every area of success within our society to education in order for our children to find their success pathway.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.